A mother and son whose lawsuit bankrupted the Aryan Nations bought the neo-Nazi group's compound today and said they plan to sell it, perhaps to a human rights organization.
"We hope to get the evilness out of there and turn it around to something positive," Jason Keenan said.
Keenan and his mother, Victoria, were the only bidders in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court sale of the 20-acre property that served as the clubhouse for some of the nation's most violent neo-Nazis. They bought it for $250,000.
Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler, who watched the transfer of the property he had owned for some 30 years, blamed a Jewish conspiracy for the outcome.
"You take from those who work and have, and give to those who have never worked and did not have," he said. "I haven't lost my honor."
There had been speculation that supporters might try to buy Butler's property and return it to him for his 83rd birthday. He has vowed to keep preaching his white supremacist, anti-Semitic philosophy, and is living in a house in nearby Hayden that was bought for him by a wealthy supporter.
Only One Deposit Offered
Butler filed for bankruptcy protection in October, a month after the Keenans were awarded $6.3 million. They sued the group for negligence after being shot at and assaulted by Aryan Nations security guards near the compound in 1998.
Potential bidders were required to put down a $15,000 deposit and have a credit line of at least $300,000. The Keenans were the only ones to make a deposit. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Ala., civil rights group that represented the Keenans in their lawsuit, lent them $95,000, the required cash portion of the $250,00 sale price.
The compound is a wooded site north of Hayden Lake that contains numerous buildings, including Butler's home, a bunkhouse, a guard tower and the chapel of Butler's church. The Keenans will get the contents of the compound and intellectual property such as the names "Aryan Nations" and "Church of Jesus Christ Christian."
"The Buford Furrows of this world, of which there are many, will not have a place to come and learn the craft of hatred," said the Keenans' lawyer, Norman Gissel.
Furrow is a former Aryan Nations security guard who pleaded guilty last month to killing a Filipino-American mailman and wounding five people at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles.
The Keenans were driving past the compound in 1998 when their car apparently backfired. Three Aryan Nations security guards, thinking someone had fired a shot, jumped into a pickup and chased them.
They shot out a tire, forcing the Keenans' car into a ditch. The guards held the pair at gunpoint and threatened to kill them before backing off.